Integrity and the loyalty of friendship are two essential keys in any healthy relationship. They are fundamental to marriage. I will be true to my word. I will be your loyal friend. Unless true character resides in the heart of the person making such statements they are just words on a page--without meaning and without encouragement. Instead of being words that build up they will turn into swords that pierce the heart.
Integrity seems rare in our culture. Promises easily fall from the lips of a couple in love or from politicians swearing an oath to office. It is too rare that people speak with clarity, honesty and integrity. When caught in a trap of words the crafty person finds ways to explain former statements that relieves them of their original meaning.
Loyal friendship is also rare and seldom treasured, as it ought to be. When God said, ...It is not good that the man should be alone...(Genesis 2:18) he had marriage in view. Yet the application reaches beyond marriage to friendships. Solomon wrote that friendship is better than being alone. Friendship brings the reward of encouragement, warmth and strength (Ecclesiastes 4:9-11). We were not designed to live isolated like an island. We were built for one another.
Nowhere are integrity and loyalty more demanded and more needed than in marriage. In marriage we need to be promise keepers and truest friends. Reading those words is humbling. We have fallen short in our promises and we have failed to be truest friends. Therefore, marriage needs the grace of forgiveness. It needs the constant reminder that Christ has been perfectly true to his words and is the friend that sticks closer than even a spouse. Remembering where our hope is ultimately built, and our own weaknesses, drives us to Christ and makes us ready and willing to forgive. Such remembrance also helps us to be people of integrity and loyal friends.